When new acquaintances learn that I am a domain investor, one of the first questions I am frequently asked by those who own businesses is, “can you look at my website?” People might not understand exactly what I do, but many they assume it’s website related, and I have found that many small business owners aren’t completely content with their web businesses and think I may be able to help.
Since I am not an SEO expert nor am I one to judge the creativity of someone else, I frequently feel a bit helpless when I check out their site. I’ve given small tips that are SEO basics, but it’s difficult to tell a small business owner that I think he should spend $xx,xxx on his category defining domain name, because it’s unaffordable for many, and for others, they have no interest in expanding their business outside of the local market.
That said, I always felt guilty not being able to offer some good advice until recently when I realized I did know something important that many business owners don’t already know. Google Local is a fantastic way to reach potential customers looking for a type of business in a particular area. Google Local results are the listings you see next to the map at the top of the results page when searching for some geo keyword listings.
I’ve found that many people don’t know how to get listed there, and they really appreciate this tidbit of knowledge. It’s easy to sign up for a listing on the Google Local page, and a business can get listed in several categories. This free listing is especially beneficial for small companies because they can compete with the largest businesses in the area.
For domainers that are developing, I also discovered something of interest. I’ve learned that Google tends to consider subdomains as separate websites.This means that a website can have multiple listings on Google Local, which would be beneficial in smaller markets where there is less competition. Imagine a market with 3 hotels, and 10 listings, with the other 7 being for hotel booking sites.
I discovered that there is at least one company who signed up with Google Local under a variety of subdomains for a city and it has several listings, with all subdomains forwarding to one primary website. For example, they have set up subdomains like BostonSpaHotels.xyzdomainname.com, BostonResortHotels.xyzdomainname.com…etc. I think this is a brilliant idea for the hotel pages since these leads can be converted using a hotel booking widget from affiliates such as WCT or IAN, but it could also be used for other directory sites – and the only real cost is the set up time.
I think Google Local is a great tool and should be used by all small businesses and websites to increase their reach.
Here’s some more good, current info on local search-
Good post. All business should make sure they are properly listed in Google local, and even work to optimize their listing with reviews, photos, etc, therby increasing their “rank” within those 10 spots.
I would be careful overdoing the subdomains within the same business location and category. Google local will typically only allow one listing per business address. Some have gotten around this by using different addresses but I believe Google views this as spam, particularly if all links actually direct to the same primary URL. I have seem businesses get de-listed from Google local.
Great tip Elliot!
I got a kick out of Google’s pitch on the Google Local page as well:
“It’s easy, free, and you don’t need a website of your own. ”
I wouldn’t take the advise at the end… I think it’s vital to have the website, because people are going to look at it and get better or more info about what they want with one simple click.
Another tip to go along, is use Whois.sc for the domain of the site and watch the Title, Meta Description and Meta Keywords. You would be surprised how many sites have None.
you would not believe how many businesses I still find in my home city who are giving their page clicks away to google and have NO I repeat NO web site.
i actually have had people say to me “what can a website do for me?”.
I guess this is the answer.
yes people still (rant rant rant)
don’t post office hours, hours of business and freeway directions,
ps i made a bundle at AC writing blurbs for business with no website. And the unique find-me clicks i got were well into the triple digits in under the first week.
How’d I know which one to write? i would google the business and there would be….nothing.
instant article purchase from ac on these.
Now Google is picking up the slack.
We use Google Local at drive traffic every day to our various advertising, design, PR, marketing firms in Dallas, but it was my understanding that to be included in Google Local, you had to have a local address. I would be interested to know how these guys are getting past that requirement.
J. A. Lohmann
Co-Founder / Partner
Dallas / Colorado
Nice to point this out Elliot. Here in Europe many local companies make use of it, however at the same time many small local businesses leave opportunities behind. Many of them still have no website and/or cannot be found in Google.
It is often that Small Business Organizations take care of those listings which is often included in their package.